Coronado student overcomes adversity to gain state Youth of the Year honor from Boys & Girls Club
A club participant since age 9, Ashley O'Donnell, now 17, was selected “based on her year-long efforts in the areas of leadership, academic achievement, community service and overcoming obstacles,” a press release states.
The honor includes a $5,000 scholarship and a chance to participate in regional competitions in which each of five winners will receive a $10,000 scholarship. Those winners in turn will compete nationally for a $50,000 award.
“Ashley encountered great strife in her young life -- she was exposed to domestic violence, divorce and the successive deaths of her father, uncle, and grandmother,” the press release elaborates. “Sadly, Ashley's mother has been in and out of trouble with the law. She was recently arrested and incarcerated, leaving Ashley, the eldest daughter, to assume a caretaker role. Ashley stepped up to the challenge, juggling school, homework, cooking, cleaning, and caring for her two younger sisters while her stepfather worked full-time.
“As you might imagine, Ashley has had to cope with feelings of frustration, sadness, confusion, and anger. Rather than turning to unhealthy pursuits, Ashley found solace at the Boys & Girls Club where she's received support from club staff and peers since age 9. Ashley created deep and lasting bonds with the club staff who have been there to support her as she pursues her dream of being the first in her family to attend college.”
At Coronado, the press release continues, Ashley has taken advanced placement and honors classes, maintained a 3.5 grade point average, played on the varsity basketball team, worked in the school's Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to prepare for college and served as a peer mentor for five freshmen students.
Outside school, Ashley has volunteered for 2 ½ years at Memorial Hospital. At the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region, she was president last year of the community service program, Torch Club, with efforts including a food drive and assistance at Habitat for Humanity, the release states.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region (BGCPPR) started in 1888. One of its locations is on the Westside, at Manitou Boulevard and Praderia Avenue. Programming focuses on education and career development; character and leadership development; the arts; health and life skills; and sports, fitness and recreation. For more information, go to http://bgcppr.org/about-us.
From a press release